If your digital photos seem a bit dull lately, try this simple technique to introduce some wild light effects into your routine. All you need is a $4 piece of glass you can order online.

The technique comes from photographer Sam Hurd, who dazzled us with his use of prisms not long ago. This time, he figured out that placing a convex lens element in front of your camera lens can yield all kinds of focus and refraction effects, some of which look pretty damn cool. Sam calls the technique "lens chimping."

Many photographers scoff at introducing these artificial effects into pictures, and even though it's easy to get carried away and use something like this as a crutch or gimmick, be careful dismissing it outright. Think about analog photography. Scores of people praise film for the unpredictability and chance effects that the chemical processes can yield—color shifts, light leaks, etc. Many shooters choose film stock and equipment specifically for these qualities. Techniques like lens chimping don't seem all that different. It's all in service of establishing a mood or emotion. Just use it wisely and tastefully! [Sam Hurd Photography]